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Researchers and clinicians

C&I uses software that takes electronic clinical records and automatically feeds them into a research database.  The “inputs" include structured data, such as tabulated Patient Health Questionnaire-9 scores, and free-text data, such as progress notes and letters.  As the data are sent to the research database, they are rendered anonymous, using a linked-anonymised (pseudonymised) method.

All records in the research database are identified only by a research ID number.  There are no names, exact dates of birth, C&I hospital numbers, or NHS numbers.  Only C&I can de-anonymise the information.  The database retains details of sex, age (month and year of birth), diagnoses, medication, and so on, including searchable free text.

With the permission of C&I, researchers can use the database for epidemiological and service evaluation studies.  They simply search it, analyse the data, and publish (the database has generic ethical approval for studies of this type, a separate ethical opinion is not required).  For example, a putative association between two diseases might be examined in this way. 

Future development

Future development of the database will add capabilities for researchers to use the database for patient-contact research.  They will be able to search the database for anonymous patients that might be suitable for their study.  They may then request the patients’ details (if the patient has consented to this) in order to write to them to view their C&I clinical record, or address their first request to the patients’ clinicians.  Either way, they only receive patient-identifiable information for patients who consent. Research of this type will require an independent ethical opinion in addition to the generic favourable opinion applicable to the database itself.

Please note that patients are not currently routinely being asked to express a consent mode and the database is currently in use primarily for epidemiological and service evaluation  research only. 

Access to the database

If you would like further information about using the C&I Research Database for a project, please contact the C&I Research Database Manager by email researchdatabase@candi.nhs.uk or telephone 020 3317 3536

If you would like to submit an application for permission to use the C&I database for a research project, please download the project application form.


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